Vatican Told Irish Bishops Not To Report Abuse
Every now and then, a new set of documents trickle out of the Vatican about the decades long sexual abuse scandals, and this one is pretty deplorable:
DUBLIN (AP) — A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure with the potential to fuel more lawsuits worldwide against the Vatican, which has long denied any involvement in cover-ups.
The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests.
The letter’s message undermines persistent Vatican claims that the church never instructed bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
Child-abuse activists in Ireland said the 1997 letter should demonstrate, once and for all, that the protection of pedophile priests from criminal investigation was not only sanctioned by Vatican leaders but ordered by them. A key argument employed by the Vatican in defending dozens of lawsuits over clerical sex abuse in the United States is that it had no role in ordering local church authorities to suppress evidence of crimes.
“The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican’s intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere,” said Colm O’Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of human rights watchdog Amnesty International
There’s really no reason to think that isn’t the case and that the Vatican was as complicit in covering up the sexual abuse of children in the United States as it was in Ireland. Unfortunately, because of the Vatican’s (slightly absurd) status as a state, it will never pay the price it ought to in American courts.